Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mister Gripes: Sarah Palin, Random Rants, Little League...

Ex-Governor Palin – Put yourself in her shoes [$500 Manolos, of course, compliments of the NRC] – you’d probably do the same thing: it’s a couple of days after the November election, you’ve spent the past 90 days crisscrossing the country speaking to frenzied, adoring crowds, even upstaging the party’s Presidential candidate, flying on private jets, staying at $1,000-a-night hotels, adorned in $150,000 worth of Neiman clothes purchased with a Republican Party credit card, with no heavy lifting for months.
And, now you’re disembarking from a plane in Anchorage, to no cheers, no crowds, no nothing, just an unsettling quiet on a cold, misty evening. Tomorrow you’re governor again, and it’s back to dealing with simpleton legislators and mind-numbing issues like mineral rights and highway funding; plus, those damn Democrats and their ethics committee want to look at your per-diem expense accounts, of all things. Besides that, in a half-hour, you’ll have to get reacquainted with that slacker husband again, clean up after all those squealing children, and, to top it off, deal with that lazy bum, Levi, who not only knocked up your daughter but now sits around the house doing nothing but eating pizza and drinking beer.
And, look what’s out there if only you were unencumbered with a governor’s responsibilities and prohibitions: oodles and oodles of cash. Low-hanging fruit like book deals and speaking engagements all over the world at $50,000 to $250,000 a pop. Millions and millions.
Mr. Gripes is certain Governor Palin, ostensibly a proponent of never giving up on the tough tasks, looked at what was in front of her, and, with not a moment’s hesitation, said, “I’m out of here.” The next Presidential election did not factor into her decision at all. After a national campaign, being governor was ‘dudsville’. And, let’s face it, 2012 is a millennium from now.
To her credit, Ms. Palin possesses tremendous confidence and ambition – those qualities permit her to overlook her faults, and take big risks. Her timing, too, is exquisite, so she pounced at the opportunity.
That’s not to say she’s done with a run at the Presidency. Her ambition will never let that notion disappear. With her vaulted self-esteem, she just knows she’d be a superb President. In fact, a poll of Republicans was conducted by Gallup right after the election, and Mr. Gripes was astounded by one finding: 72% of Republicans indicated they’d vote for Sarah Palin for President. Yikes. Or, as the old sportscaster Mel Allen would exclaim after another Yankee home run, “How about that!”

Random Rants…
The ‘foot-in-mouth’ act of Joe Biden is sure wearing thin.
I’m really tired of Don Imus constantly pleading for money for his rodeo camp for kids. New Mexico officials, shut it down.
The Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica has the textbook persona of the pipsqueak he is: pugnacious and obnoxious. Mr. Gripes cannot read or listen to him any longer.
One thought jumps out whenever I observe Bob Woodward of Watergate fame: he’s lost his fastball. There is no cache to Mr. Woodward any longer. His smug countenance says it all: I’m famous, I’m rich, and I’m in tight with the political establishment. Mr. Woodward is a classic American sell-out.
John McCain’s ‘maverick’ days are over. He’s once again nothing but a war-thirsty, ‘let’s commit another 100,000 troops’ conservative. Mr. McCain’s face tells it all: anger, frustration, humiliation and a thinly veiled hatred for the guy who whipped his ass, President Obama.
The hip-hop music craze seems to be fading. Thank God. The complete collapse of Western civilization has been pushed back a few weeks.
Clothes don’t always make the man: David Gregory, who dresses as if his underwear were Armani, can’t hold a candle to the late Tim Russert, who looked like he bought his suits off the rack at Burlington Coat Factory, at 2 for $199.00.
Whenever I see Diane Sawyer on her morning show, I’m reminded of how a New York Times entertainment reporter once described her act: she exudes a “creamy insincerity.” Perfect.
After observing Alan Greenspan testifying before a Senate committee a couple of months ago, I figured out the character defect that very nearly brought down the American economy: he is a man who does not take counsel from anyone kindly – he listens only to himself. Hubris, I think the Greeks call it.
Forget the garment business – it’s relocated to Bangladesh now. New York City’s largest growth industry these days is traffic tickets. It feels like there are a million of those parking ticket maidens out there every day writing summonses at 8:01 am. Shame on you, Mayor Bloomberg. Nothing new though: New Yorkers have been treated with contempt by its leaders for decades – we’re long-suffering fools.
If David Letterman’s intent was to make light of his affairs with staffers by intentionally evoking laughter on his show, he’s nothing but a low-rent skunk.
Roman Polanski forced a 13-year-old to ingest Quaaludes and drink champagne before he raped her. Twenty-five years in maximum security seem a just prison term. And, throw into the cell Whoopi, Penelope, Marty and Woody while you’re at it.
Since 2002, there’s been a net loss of 700,000 automobile manufacturing jobs in the Midwest alone. I traveled through Cleveland and Detroit this summer: a tableau of desolation and empty buildings, America circa 1931. We’re in a heap of trouble, folks.
No one’s going around trumpeting their net worth these days, are they?
Baseball has traditionally been played by ‘boys of summer,’ yet If the 2009 World Series goes to a seventh game, the game will take place on the night of November 3rd. Insane.
I miss very much my best friend of 45 years, Gerry Z. Wherever you are, Big Z, I hope you’re at a piano, playing Bach, and looking forward to a blissful Sunday afternoon of watching football. Life is so unfair and painful when close friends die.
Little League – It’s all too much. Too many television cameras, too many anxious ‘my-boy’s-gonna-sign-for-a-million-bucks’ parents, too many perfect playing fields and pristine uniforms, too much pressure, too much exposure and too much cloying ‘Mom-and-Apple-Pie’ sentimentality. Little League’s gone the way of so many other American institutions – a kid’s sheer elation at playing the game of baseball has been smothered by officious parents and, yes, corporate interests. Once upon a time, Little League was a small-town civic responsibility, set up so a locale’s young boys could simply play competitive baseball on placid Saturday afternoons. Now? It’s on television for weeks on end, with competing teams from as far away as Sri Lanka. The fun has been bleached out.
America’s moved so far and so fast from its innocent days of 50, 60 years ago. Allow me, kind readers, to recall Mr. Gripes’ own momentous first day of Little League. Asked to appear for a tryout at a local elementary school, I dutifully showed up, a shy, eager, energetic and, above all, frightened boy of 7 or 8, with about fifty other boys. We were told to get in line, as one of the coaches proceeded down the queue, writing down names. When he was in front of me, the coach, who was, I dimly remember, a rather aggressive, loud type, screamed out, “Son, where’s your glove?” My parents, adherents to a decidedly benign-neglect approach to child-rearing, had forgotten to purchase a baseball glove for their eldest son. To my eternal mortification and humiliation, of all the kids at this tryout, I was the only boy -- and a doctor’s son, to boot -- who did not have a glove.
The coach, who knew my father in passing, just stood there, incredulous, shaking his head slightly, further embarrassing me. In retrospect, I suspect he was contemplating a riddle Mr. Gripes has been pondering ever since, “What planet do these Israels come from?” I have little memory of anything else from that day, except I took my fielding trials at shortstop with a first baseman’s mitt borrowed from my cousin, did not mishandle any ball hit to me, came in first or second in all of the sprint races, and didn’t hit badly either. The smirk on that coach’s face disappeared. Following the tryout, I was handed a note to be taken home and given to my father. I didn’t have the nerve to examine it, but I’ll bet it went along the lines of, “Jimmy appears to possess the instincts to be a pretty good ballplayer, but please for God’s sake, buy him a goddam glove, will you, Doc!” Two days later, I received a brand-new, gorgeous Bobby Richardson infielder’s glove. From that day on, I never stopped playing baseball for twenty years.
My point – too long, I know – is this: In those days, boys played baseball all the time – on school playgrounds, in friends’ backyards, on streets, everywhere, until nightfall, when we couldn’t see the ball any longer. We chose sides, and played and played. There were no adults around to supervise, to organize, or to schedule. We simply played because we loved to swing that bat and run those bases. For Mr. Gripes, it was the great passion – by far – of his childhood. And there were not any meddling parents around. Yes, there was Little League, but essentially until the age of 13 or 14, it was strictly for Saturdays, with a practice or two during the week. It turned out we were given the gift of time and space to learn the basics of cooperation and fair play on our own. And, above all, baseball taught us about getting back up after failure – maybe it’s the pitcher forgetting about the monstrous home run he just gave up, and mustering up the nerve to face another batter, or the hitter completely overmatched a couple of times at bat, yet not giving up when he gets up again. That’s a great lesson, the idea of failing, rising off the mat and moving forward despite formidable obstacles. And, boys then played the game in total anonymity; sure, parents came to Little League games, but for the most part we were left alone. That’s Mr. Gripes’ advice: allow children to find their own passion. Parents and coaches, sure, enjoy your child’s Little League games, but try not to interfere – just let the kids be kids. That way, the love for the game will endure.